10th December 2011

From the Wilts & Glos Standard, 22nd December 2011
Handel – Messiah
10th December 2011
Review by Amy Ryder



Cirencester Choral Society brought a little bit of traditional festivity to Cirencester Parish Church last Saturday with their recital of Handel’s famous masterpiece, Messiah.

Although Cirencester Choral Society is not a professional choir, there was nothing amateur about this performance. After months of rehearsal, the choir’s performance was neat, engaged, and entirely committed. From the very first notes you could feel the full force of all their months of hard work released in glorious harmony, and the choir performed throughout with evident relish and enjoyment. They were a joy to watch.

The choir remained responsive to their professional conductor, Carleton Etherington, throughout the evening, which made for a clean and neat performance. Carleton conducted with energy and sensitivity, resulting in a very fine-tuned and well-balanced sound which reverberated beautifully around the acoustics of the parish church.

The accompanying ‘Corinium Camerata’, made up of local professional musicians, were also highly engaging. The overture was played with absolute precision, and this was maintained throughout the whole evening. Special praise must go to Jenny Rees, the choir’s regular accompanist, who stepped in at the last minute to play the harpsichord.

As well as professional musicians and a professional conductor, the Choral Society also sourced their soloists from Guildhall; a wise move, as it allowed us to fully relax into the beautiful melodies. Iria Perestrelo, soprano, was particularly engaging as she fully embraced the storytelling aspect to her solo performances, while Paul Curievici’s crisp tenor notes were pure and uplifting.

The Choral Society themselves held their own spectacularly well amongst these professionals. Their ‘Hallelujah’ chorus met with spontaneous applause, and was the most powerful performance of the night, showcasing as it did the strength of their combined voices as well as the force of their enthusiasm and cohesion as a choir.

To tackle and deliver such a high standard of a work such as Handel’s Messiah is a huge accomplishment for a non-professional choir, and was definitely a success on which they should be congratulated.